Thursday, August 28, 2014


Dear Family,

I hope you are doing well! I sure do love you all a lot! I hope you know that because I really do!

Another good, hard week in the bag. I guess if it wasn't good and hard, it wouldn't really be a week. So yeah.

Last Monday, we got to go bowling with most of the Allen missionaries! It was so fun! It was the last day that our little group of missionaries was going to be together because several of the missionaries got transferred. I am terrible at bowling. Like I got 50 one round and 45 the other. But I had fun. So that's what's important, right? After bowling, Sister Aumua and I got to go with our investigator H* and her son T* out to dinner. It's this fried chicken place called Cane's. It's yummy. And they have fry sauce so it's basically the best. (The simple pleasures in life are the best.) Then we went to this little fountain show, kind of like City Creek.

We've done a LOT of bike riding this week. Like, we always do a lot. But especially this week. We were all over the place! But it's fun to bike in 103 degree weather. It's actually my favorite. Just kidding. I actually really like bike riding and I think I will continue to do it after my mission. Except I will wear pants or shorts. Because you know. No dignity. Ha. We were talking to someone about how we stay modest. I said like either little bike shorts or we just don't care when it's too hot. She said we should like advertise on our bike shorts. You know how professional bikers have sponsors and they advertise for them? Well we would just advertise for Ya know.

Our weekly service project (the Presbyterian garden) was cancelled for the week because Nieta, the director was in Oregon. So we were scrambling trying to find service. But we ended up being able to help clean some of our ward member's houses. It was really great to spend time with them and get to know them better. Service is love.

We went to visit a less active, L*. The time before we challenged her to start reading the Book of Mormon and praying with her kids. So when we got there, we were talking about her job and stuff. It turns out, she got a new job so she will be able to start coming to church again! Yay. Also, we asked her how her reading was going. They had been doing it!!! We were seriously so happy! So we read a chapter with L* and her daughter and it was joyous! I was so pleased. That's just happy and rewarding.

Friday night we were out tracting after our dinner appointment. There was a man walking his dog, so we started talking to him. I was kind of tired and pretty much over talking to people. But we got to know him a little bit and spoke a little about prophets. His name is S*. We asked him if wanted to learn more and he hesitantly accepted! So he invited us/we invited ourselves over to meet with him and his wife the next day. We called/texted him the next morning to touch bases. No answer. So when it came time to see him, we were busy, tired, and hungry, but we still decided to bike over to see him. Him and his wife V* were very gracious hosts. So we got to know them and such. Then as we were starting the lesson, S* said, "I want to know everything. I'm not necessarily saying I'm going to convert, but I want to know what you have to offer." So that was cool. So we started the first lesson with God is our Loving Heavenly Father and talked about the nature of God. We talked about families and then we talked about prophets. They kind of got caught up on prophets and the need for a prophet in general, but we were able to testify of our living prophet, President Monson. It was just a really special lesson. They invited us to return this coming Saturday and invited us to have lunch with them as well. So that's cool. Also a plus side, since they invited us for lunch, they can't really cancel on us, because that would be rude! ;)

We saw J* this week on a drop-by. He's having a hard time, I think, finding friends and feeling like he belongs. He's still reading the Book of Mormon, but his schedule is busy now that school is started. We're not sure how often we will be able to see him. It's hard, because we don't want to lose him, but we don't want to pressure him because that is what made him back off in the first place. The delicate balance that we aren't sure where to go with.

We had 3 less active families at church yesterday! Wooooo!! I was so pumped. That was just really rewarding. Finally our efforts are paying off, even if it's just a little.

As we were going through our area book on Thursday, we ran across the teaching record of a man named T*. He took all the lessons, kept all the commitments, did EVERYTHING, except get baptized like 4 years ago. So we gave him a call and asked if he would be interested in meeting with us again. And he was! So we went over to his house last night. Whew. He's awesome! A little bit crazy, but aren't we all in our own way. This guy totally is in touch with nature, has a foot long beard, could live of the land if he had to, etc. I'm not exactly sure where our meetings are going to lead, but he's a very spiritual man. So interesting.

In other news, you can't proselyte in banks. We received a referral ish thing from a old man in our ward who likes to hand out copies of The Book of Mormon to everyone. So he sent us to a bank to give The Book of Mormon to a lady. Turns out, you can't do that and turns out she wasn't really interested anyway. Ha.

Church was wonderful yesterday. A brother in the ward spoke about how we can avoid having spiritual plateaus. When we start feeling comfortable or stagnant, we should pray and ask God what we should change next. Or who should we become. It was a very interesting way of thinking about it, but I really liked it.

President Monson's most recent talk, Love - The Essence of the Gospel is amazing. "Blame keeps wounds open. Only love heals." I encourage y'all to read and study it.

John 16:33
Doctrine and Covenants 68:6

At FHE on Monday with the Bailey and Taggart families, Brother Bailey said, "Missionary work isn't always fun, but it's always happy." I couldn't have agreed more. This is the hardest thing I've ever done, and some days I'm convinced that I'm insane to voluntarily sign up for this, but it is wonderful. God is molding me into someone better than I was before. It hurts right now, but I just have to remember that He knows who I can become, and I have to trust in Him. It reminds me of this Mormon message. The Currant Bush.

Well I love you so much! Be good!

Sister Gilbert 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

8.18.2014 - What a week!

Hi Family,
I don't really know where to start, so I'm just going to go. :)
After emailing y'all last week, we went shopping and then the elders brought over 1/4 of a HUGE 36" pizza! The thing was seriously massive. So we feasted. Haha. After that, the sisters all decided to go ice skating! Yay! Except, I didn't ice skate, because we all know what happened to my knee that last time I went ice skating. I want to be able to work, so I gotta keep my knees happy! But I got to sit around and chat with Sister Parkinson. That is always a good time.

Tuesday, we had lunch with some older members at their retirement home. That was hilarious! We had these steaks (ew) and just were with the most lively people at that retirement home. It was enjoyable. Always a good time. THEN, Sister Hawkins, one of our ward missionaries showed up at our apartment with a HUGE bag of goodies! I put a picture of it on drop box! It was so nice! I think the thing that meant the most was that she was thinking about us and wanted us to feel happy. So that was super fun. Also, a goose pecked my foot while we were contacting. I screamed and scooted away on my bike right in the middle of a conversation with this lady. It was so funny. But weird. I mean, who gets pecked by a goose?
Wednesday, we were having FRUITLESS tracting. Like nothing was happening. And it was HOT. And we were TIRED. So we sat down on the sidewalk underneath a tree and just sat for a while. We made some videos on our phone. I'm quite the rapper these days. (NOT. I just pretend.) It was hilarious. I should probably stop saying it was hilarious because I've said it like 10000 times in this email already it feels like. We also met with some members, the Fulton family. I think Sister Fulton added you on FB, Mom? Maybe. Anyway, they are a cute family. It's always wonderful to be in members homes and feel of their amazing spirits. Also, it turns out that their kids all want to go to UTAH STATE as well. So that's pretty swell!
Speaking of Utah State, could you maybe send me a game day t-shirt? One for Sister Aumua as well? I would love that. :)
Thursday we contacted a referral from the Fulton's. R*M* and K*M*. When the Fulton's son Jeff left on his mission, they went to his farewell which happened to be the same day that Sister Aumua and I spoke in our ward. They remembered us and were happy to let us into their house. R* is from England and K* is from South Carolina. K*'s handicapped brother D* lives with them as well. D* LOVES the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Like LOVES them. Also, every time they drive past our building, he yells, "It's the Normans!" Then they gently correct him and remind him to call us the Latter-day Saints. So funny. They were sweet. We'll be going back in a couple weeks once K*'s dad is in town and will hopefully be able to talk to them about family history work.
Friday, I don't even remember what happened. Oh, I had turkey burger sliders for dinner with members! So delicious.
Saturday we went on exchanges (splits) with the Sister Training Leaders! I got to go down to Dallas! That was really fun. The work is progressing FAST down there. It was enjoyable to be able to actually teach several lessons. I was with Sister Morley. She goes home tomorrow so that is crazy. She's the one in the pictures who is not my normal companion. She's a really amazing missionary. Also, there was a HUGE HUGE HUGE rainstorm. It was just dumping. But luckily, we were in a car, so it was a lot of fun. It was insane. It dropped from 103 degrees to 73 degrees in less than an hour! Wow.
SUNDAY WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK. Church was good and stuff. But the true highlight was our Musical Missionary Devotional last night. The spirit was seriously so strong and so special. The missionaries sang Come Unto Christ (the youth theme song for the year), members bore testimonies and shared scripture and members also sang songs. Be Still My Soul; Come Thou Fount; Oh Lord, My Redeemer (look this one up, it is beautiful). President and Sister Taylor were able to come and speak as well. It was seriously just a special evening. Oh, and Sister Aumua and I along with two girls from the stake, Carlee and Rachel sang the closing song. It was I Know That My Redeemer Lives/I Feel My Savior's Love. You can maybe find the mash-up on youtube. But it was really nice. Let me tell you, I was scared out of my brains to sing in front of all the people, but it went well! Also, we had a really good turn out! Almost 300 people came! It was awesome. Our investigator, Heather and her son Trey were able to come also! I think they felt a really good spirit and it was a wonderful opportunity for them to reconnect with ward members.
THEN last night was crazy. So Sunday morning, Sister Aumua woke up and she had  HUGE blister/bug bite/something on her ankle. Like it was full of fluilds. Like almost the size of the top of my pinky. It was huge and gross. So we were talking to some people at church, like doctors and moms and stuff, and they said that it looked infected and they needed to do something about it. They also told Sister Aumua that she needed to look out for like red lines coming out from the bites. So after church, we went over to the White's. Sister White lanced it and stuff. It was gross. But it filled back up almost immediately. So they lanced it again and just put a bandaid on it. When we got home at 9:30 from the devotional, we did our nightly planning and were starting to get ready for bed. So at 10:20 Sister Aumua was changing and stuff. So she looks at her side, and there is a huge bug bite and rash on her hip and a red line leading up toward her armpit. So we freak out because it was that red line that they told us was really serious. So we called Sister White (after the hours that we are supposed to call people haha) and had her come look at it. She was worried, so we got permission from Sister Taylor and headed up to the Urgent Care clinic at 11 pm. They checked it out and she has cellulitis (a skin infection). So they prescribed a pretty serious anti-biotic and told her she has to take it easy for a couple days. So this will be an interesting few days. But after that, we needed to go get her prescription. So at 11:45 we headed to McKinney to go to the 24 hour Walgreens pharmacy. So don't worry. We went to Walgreens at midnight! Woo! Sister White was super sweet, so she bought us a bunch of treats and stuff because we'll probably be in our apartment a lot. Good times.
Oh, transfers were on Saturday. Sister Aumua and I are both staying.
Look up Alma 5:26 and Alma 26:13. Wonderful things.
I love y'all SO MUCH! I'm praying for you!
Sister Gilbert

Monday, August 11, 2014

8.11.2014 - If it's not hot, it's not Texas

We got real hot Texas weather this week. So that has been a good adventure. It's been over 100 most days. Friday it was 106 and 92% humidity. BLEH.

Last Monday, a member in our ward wanted to buy Sister Aumua new shoes because hers were dead. So we went to Famous Footwear to look. Sister Aumua ended up finding 2 pairs of shoes, and I found a pair also! $15 dollars! Woot. Dr. Scholl's. I forgot to take a picture, but they are cute and grey. The members here are really good to us. We also went tracting last Monday for a while. We had met this really nice guy named G* the night before while we were riding around on our bikes. So we tracted into his house and were able to talk to him for a while about missions and our church and stuff. A couple of his friends are on missions right now, so that was really nice to just chat for a while. It's really enjoyable when you can have a conversation with people and they don't treat you like the dust of the earth!

Tuesday was ROUGH. We knocked doors for 2 hours and only talked to like 2 people. We had a lesson with B* our investigator about the gospel of Jesus Christ and she really liked it, but she is going out of town and her Senior Citizen activities are picking back up along with her church activities. So, she sadly told us to come back in October. That was really sad. Then we met with J*. He is having some serious doubts and questions at this time, so there was no baptism this week, unfortunately. But it is okay. Hopefully we will be able to help him by not pushing him too much and by teaching him to search for his own answers. We are definitely walking on delicate ground over here, but it is all good. It was just a hard day. But we did watch a great video called Come unto Christ. Here's the link. I think you will really enjoy it because I sure do.

Wednesday, ZONE CONFERENCE. Yay! It was so wonderful! I got to play the piano again for the meeting. I can't even express how happy it makes me to be able to play the piano for meetings. It seems like the simplest thing, but it is always a huge blessing whenever I am able to. We talked ALL about working with members. The previous mission president, President Durrant, really focused on being exactly obedient and working really hard. President Taylor isn't trying to change that, but he is just adding more light and knowledge to that. So we are really going to focus on working with members and all striving together to build God's kingdom. We will be spending more time with members and building relationships of trust with them. I'm super excited! I've always felt like the numbers are important, but I've felt like the people and relationships behind those numbers and goals are even more important. I am so happy that this is the direction that President Taylor, and ultimately the Lord, wants to take with the Texas Dallas Mission. We also received training on how pride is the great stumbling block between us and God's kingdom. If we lower ourselves into the depths of humility, we will be blessed. I am praying to have more charity and love for all the people - my companion, the ward, the investigators, and the random strangers I come in contact with every day. Another highlight from Zone Meeting is that sweet Sister Parkinson bought me the most ADORABLE necklace from a store called charming Charlie. It's SO cute. It's a little tiny gold elephant that matches my elephant bracelet. I love it. Sorry, again, I didn't take a picture, but just imagine in your mind that it is adorable.

We like to call this mission the Texas Dallas Heaven. It truly is heaven here. Hot heaven, but heaven none-the-less. I had the confirmation this week that is EXACTLY where I'm supposed to be. The people that I meet, my companion, my ward, President and Sister Taylor, everyone and all the experiences that I'm having are EXACTLY what is going to make me the best Gretchen that I can be. (Sometimes it's really weird to use my first name. Ha.) I am so blessed.

On Friday we had dinner with a lovely family in the ward. Their son served his mission in Guam Micronesia and was home for the weekend. So he made some delicious food. Coconut tortillas called titias and some sort of meat mixture thingy called kelaguen. Super yum.

We found some new investigators! D* and C*. They are originally from Taiwan. Sweetest little couple ever. We taught them the Restoration of the gospel. C* is still learning English, but D* was able to help translate. Sister Aumua had a sister from the ward come with, Sister White. It was just a wonderful lesson. After we shared the first vision, we asked D* and C* what they thought about it. C* said that she believed it because she knows God loves us enough and has a plan for us and wants us to know what we should do in our lives. She figured that Joseph Smith wouldn't lie about it and that God really did speak to him. So that was amazing! When we were getting ready to go, I was really doubtful if we should go. We were going to have to go really far out of the way to see them, but we ended up going and I am SO glad we did. We will see them again this coming week.

Saturday night the Sisters in the zone (4 comps) got together at a park and chalked the plan of salvation! It was so fun! We just drew out the plan and put scriptures and pictures. We would talk to people as they came by. It was a really enjoyable finding experience.

During Sunday School yesterday, I felt so inadequate and so tired. I didn't even know what to do. It was bad. Especially because Sister Aumua and I were teaching. After class, a sweet lady, Sister Hawkins was talking to me and helping me figure some things out. I haven't been sleeping super well and just the stress of trying to be a good missionary has been wearing on me. So I'm going to try to be easier on myself and just focus on what I'm doing well.

We had a delicious dinner last night. A quinoa, cous-cous, cranberry, and almond salad, homemade pesto and ravioli, and crockpot Italian chicken. YUM. It was great. Then after dinner at our next appointment, a kind lady brought out heaping platefuls of banana pudding. Because I am the most polite person on the planet, I ate it. Every last bite. Sister Aumua was laughing at me the whole time because she knows ... such is the life of a POLITE MISSIONARY. ha.

The Assistants to the President gave a challenge to the new missionaries. We were supposed to see how many names and faces we knew in our ward. So at church and looking at the ward roster, I knew 190!! They were really impressed, but sadly I didn't win the competition. Sister Head, who covers two wards, got 201. So, I put up a valiant fight. But I am still really proud of myself. :) Haha. 

We taught 8 lessons with members present with a  total of 11 lessons this week! We worked super hard, even though our baptism was delayed. It's been a good, hard, long, wonderful week.

In other news, this is the last week of the transfer. I seriously can't believe it. It's pretty much just crazy sauce. I don't even know.

I can't remember if I've already told you this, but study Doctrine and Covenants 6. Wonderful section. My favorite verse is verse 36. "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."

I love you all so much. 

Sister Gilbert

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Another Day Another Destiny - 8.4.2014

Hello family fam fam,

I hope you all are doing well!! I seriously love you all so much and I'm just so grateful that I get to email you every week. It is seriously such a great blessing to have!!

This week was crazy. I am so blessed, did ya know?

We had a follow-up training on Tuesday for all the missionaries who are being trained right now! It was a fun little reunion with the elders and sisters I came in with. :) President basically told us that we will always be a special group and that he loves us dearly because we came in at the same time as him. So that's fun. We watched this amazing video called Missionary Work and the Atonement. I think it's on youtube. It has Elder Eyring and Elder Holland in it. It's incredible. It spoke about how missionary work is hard and we sometimes wonder what we signed up for. But then it pointed out that it was NEVER easy for the Savior and that the price of salvation is not cheap. Jesus Christ understands PERFECTLY what I am going through. He was rejected. He was betrayed. He was spit upon. He was beat. And all He wanted to do was love the people and bring them closer to Him. I'm not saying that I'm like Jesus Christ only that He understands exactly what I am going through in my day to day missionary efforts. We finished the meeting by singing Battle Hymn of the Republic. That song has never touched me before like it did today.
  1. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible, swift sword;His truth is marching on. (Chorus) Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah! His truth is marching on.
  2. He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat; He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgment seat. Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer him; be jubilant my feet! Our God is marching on.
  3. In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea, With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me. As he died to make men holy, let us live to make men free, While God is marching on.
AMAZING. Simply amazing.

Also, this scripture.

Alma 37:40 And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.

On drop box, there is a little picture of 6 sisters. I'm wearing a pink shirt that day. So that's our little family. My trainer (my mom), her trainer (my grandma), her trainer (my great grandma), and other trainees (my aunt and my great-aunt). So cute.

 Wednesday afternoon we were tracting and just trying to find people to talk to. NO ONE WAS HOME. I was so bored. And hungry. I was starving, and I had mistakenly taken all my snacks out of my purse. So we stopped by a member's home before we went to teach B* because she was going to come teaching with us. She invited us in, gave us water, and then she gave us muffins! It was exactly what I had been praying and hoping for. So yes, I had a little muffin miracle! :) So good.

On Wednesday we taught B* again. We taught her the Plan of Salvation. Again. BUT, this time we taught it straight from the Bible! HOLY COW. I do not know the bible that well, but that was amazing. Our district leader helped us find a bunch of scriptures to tie that one together, and it ended up working AMAZINGLY well. The Spirit was definitely in charge of that lesson, but it was wonderful to testify of the truths that I hold so dear to my heart. I was able to testify of God's love and his perfect plan for His children. It was definitely a miracle lesson.

Saturday we had NOTHING on our schedule, except tracting. So we got a ride over to the east side of the ward. We decided that we were going to try to visit as many less actives over there as we could. We ended up visiting 3 and stopping by 2 others. That was a miracle. The east side is really far away and we don't make it over there very often, but it was well worth it to be over there. Saturday night we had dinner with Bishop Christiansen and his family. It was delicious. Grilled chicken and pineapple and watermelon and salad and all the works. It was like home. So good. And then sweet Sister Christiansen prayed for us. There is nothing like hearing the prayer of a member who wants you to succeed in their ward. We were all crying by the end of it. So then it was time to head home, so we hopped on our cute bikes and took of to make it back to our apartment. We were riding really fast and it was a lot of fun. But all of a sudden, there are red and blue blinking lights behind us!! Sister Aumua and I were so confused, so we pulled over, because that's what you do when there is a police officer behind you with their lights on. I was thinking, "Was I going too fast?? Is that even possible?" Well the officer proceeded to tell us that we were breaking all sorts of traffic laws because we didn't stop at the stop sign. OKAY. So Sister Aumua and I aren't dumb, but we sure don't know much about biking. And no one told us that bicyclists are supposed to stop at stop signs also. I mean, looking back, it's pretty obvious, but I just didn't think about that. So there's that. I got pulled over on a bicycle. Not every can say that that's happened to them. Luckily, no ticket, just a ticked off policeman and a funny story to boot.

I got a flat tire this week on my bike, but some kind members fixed it right up.

Also, I fell off my chair. I feel like this happens too often to me.

Also, in some of the pictures I've uploaded you may see a gross looking couch in the background. Well after finally getting grossed out of that couch, we called over the elders from our district and they helped us move it out to the dumpster. I know you can't really tell by the size of the picture, but that couch is MASSIVE. So we made a trek out to the dumpster. It was so gross. But now we don't have a stinky couch. Yay.

J*'s baptism is scheduled for this Saturday. He is ready to get baptized, but he talked to his parents back in Brazil on Saturday. They want him to know for SURE that getting baptized is what he wants to do. The only problem is that J* says he never knows 100% about anything. So we are praying really hard that he'll have an experience this week to confirm that he really does want to get baptized. We fasted yesterday for him, and we have a really hard working week planned to see if we can have a miracle baptism this week.

I've been studying about works and grace and salvation a little bit this week. God's plan allows us to choose whether we want to be saved or not. Using our agency, we get to decide what we are going to do. Satan however, wanted all men to be saved, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it takes away that precious gift of agency. Ya know? So all of these Baptist and Methodist churches are saying that all men are saved by grace, NOT WORKS. Well, I had this realization, that this is just Satan, still preaching still working still trying to convince people that a mere belief in Christ, not action, not submitting our wills to God will bring us salvation and more importantly eternal life. Interesting thought. Ya know?

Well, I love you all so much! Thanks for supporting me and loving me! I always send my best thoughts and well wishes your way.

Stay happy. :)

Sister Gretchen Gilbert